NWT wildfire rescue groups seek pet-care volunteers

As fires rage in the Northwest Territories, the NWT SPCA facility has hit capacity

Three rescued puppies at the NWT SPCA. Photo courtesy VWB/VSF
Photo courtesy VWB/VSF

Amidst one of the most destructive wildfire seasons the Northwest Territories has experienced, efforts are underway to ensure pets and humans in affected areas are safe.

In response to wildfire-related evacuations taking place in Behchokǫ̀, NWT—a community of approximately 2,000 people, located 100 km outside of Yellowknife—Veterinarians Without Borders/Vétérinaires Sans Frontières (VWB/VSF) has partnered with NWT SPCA to provide emergency services—including food, temporary shelter, and veterinary care—to evacuated pets.

While many Behchokǫ̀ residents have been evacuated to Yellowknife, government-provided accommodations for these community members do not permit animals, and the NWT SPCA facility has reached capacity. As such, local volunteers are being sought to provide temporary housing for displaced animals.

“Once these animals arrive in Yellowknife, the priority is to secure shelter and food for them,” says Michelle Tuma, DVM, VWB/VSF’s Northern Canada Veterinary Specialist, who is based in Yellowknife and co-leads veterinary clinics in remote northern communities. “As many of our local boarding facilities and our one shelter, the NWT SPCA, are currently full, this has become a community effort and we’re encouraging anyone who might have space at their home or properties to temporarily house an animal to contact [us].”

Additionally, to supplement support for those impacted, VWB/VSF has launched an Emergency Response Effort, which includes helping animals secure temporary boarding facilities. Animals at these facilities will be provided with preventative treatment to protect them from exposure to diseases, including vaccinations and parasite treatment, the organization says.

VWB/VSF will support NWT SPCA and boarding facilities with resources including pet food and volunteers. To help in this effort, the group is looking to hire a local logistics coordinator in Yellowknife to support Dr. Tuma.

Currently, the fires have burnt more than 63,441 ha (156,766 acres) of land in one of the most destructive wildfire seasons in Northwest Territories on record.

“This is a frightening situation but the staff at the animal shelter are working to ensure the care of all pets coming to the shelter is top priority,” says NWT SPCA’s executive director, Nicole Spencer. “However, with the shelter being at a maximum capacity now and limited staff, we are asking for oriented volunteers to come in and help clean and walk dogs.”

“We are asking for everyone to come together to help the animals and people in need at this time,” she adds.

  • To support the Emergency Response Effort, click here.
  • To volunteer at boarding facilities, click here.
  • Yellowknife residents able to temporarily house an animal, please contact caroline_cochrane@ntassembly.ca.
  • Any SPCA fosters available to help can contact dogs@nwtspca.com.
Leave a Comment